The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 06 May 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

MRAs, feminism and giving up

Twitter radicalised me. It made me care about issues, made me feel as though I had a stake in helping to make society better. For nearly two years now, I’ve taken part in online campaigns, argued with people and fought hard to get my point of view across. I did care, and still care, about using feminism to reform and open up definitions of masculinity and, ideally, to utterly blow them apart. I’ve been called a mangina and a social justice warrior, both of which are labels I’m very happy to own. But now I’ve had enough.

The catalyst has been arguing with a brigade of twentysomething MRAs. They’re as full of clear-eyed certainty as I can remember myself being at that age and sure, utterly sure, that they’re building a better tomorrow, brick by brick. The sixties generation were also sure that they were building a better tomorrow as well and they ended up with Nixon and, after a short hiatus, Reagan. Certainty is seductive, until something demonstrates that you were proceeding by assumption piled on assumption until you ended up in a fictive Eden that bore no relation to reality.

Ranged against them are people who absolutely have right on their side, as certainly as the people who believed in votes for women were right, the people who see that patriarchy is a thing that exists to advantage men who cleave to a certain definition of masculinity, that women are being routinely marginalised and drowned out and that the rising male suicide in no way argues against feminism. These people are correct. They are emphatically and utterly correct and anyone who dares to dispute this is deluding themselves.

However. The sheer volume of idiocy is deafening. Earlier today, I spoke to a man who thought that patriarchy didn’t exist and seemed to cleave to the idea that it had been imagined by sixties women’s studies departments to disadvantage men. Other people leaped into the conversation and started agreeing with him and another person favorited all my tweets because he wanted to start a pile on which mainly consisted of people with eight followers and an anime avatar calling me a mangina which, as I’ve already said, is a label I’m happy to own. The suicide rate is because toxic masculinity is being identified as such, not because men are told to bottle their emotions up. And on this goes.

Finding help begins with self-realisation. Part of me used to think that I was solely responsible for fighting this idiocy alone, but I’ve realised that it will carry on regardless, whether I oppose it or not. They will rant away and find another lightning rod to flash down on, to position themselves in opposition to, and signal this opposition in front of their friends. That doesn’t need to be me. It can be someone with the time, inclination and, most of all, the patience, to bother refuting the arguments. People like Chiller and Jean Hatchet are heroes, not just in arguing with them but in knowing when to send them away with a flea in their ears. There are others.

Where this leaves masculinity, however, which is my pet concern, is a moot point. I’d say it’s looking pretty fucked. Where feminism stuck its foot on the accelerator and flipped the bird to society’s assumptions about women, what the MRA movement is doing is trying to breathe new life into a version of masculinity that I assumed was dying. If men rape and sexually harass, then that’s because men are sexual animals. Cat-calling and objectification is a thing that men do to prove that they’re alpha males competing for female attention. It’s reductive and simplistic, not to say mindless, but it’s being reanimated very quickly.

It’s being helped by the trans movement, which cleaves to an idea of gender roles that could have come out of a nineteen fifties Ladybird book in which daddy mends the car and wears trousers and mummy works in the kitchen while wearing pretty dresses. There’s no basis for this, of course, other than that it sort of looks right and plays to lazy stereotypes, but this hasn’t stopped people buying it. All you need to do to be a woman is to feel like one and, presto, you are. All you need to do to feel like a man is say that you are and, presto. You are. There are obvious alliances with the MRA movement, which is also heavily invested in fixed gender roles, so this looks like a match made in hell and it’s one that society seems about to go for in quite a big way.

I don’t want this in my life, if that’s all the same to you. The trans movement think you can alter your chromosomes with the power of your brain and the MRA movement think that shouting, loudly, that men are allowed to engage in all manner of witless idiocy because they’re men and that calling them out on it is misandry. Both have an investment in fixed and immovable gender roles, so we’re going to get caught between two poles of witless halfwittage. I’m 43 now and, unless I’m mown down by a bus tomorrow, an event which I might not feel as sad about as I probably should, will get to see this unfold in all its foolish fuckwittage, for all that I plan to look the other way. Heaven help us all.

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